( A six-minute read)
QUITE RECENTLY THE BEADY ASKS: DOES ANYONE REALLY KNOW WHAT QUANTUM CHIPS WILL DO.
It was read by more than a few punters around the world. However, to date, it seems that no one knows.
Even trying to define what we mean by “reality” is fraught with difficulty.“
Just so you know I am no Physics scientist, nor do I live in a loony bin and probably like you if I kick a rock it is real but leaving aside the question of whether your senses can be trusted, what are you actually kicking?
When it boils down to it, not a lot.
Science needs remarkably few ingredients to account for a rock: a handful of different particles, the forces that govern their interactions, plus some rules laid down by quantum mechanics.
This seems like a solid take on reality, but it quickly starts to feel insubstantial. If you take a rock apart, you’ll find that its basic constituent is atoms – Atoms, of course, are composed of smaller subatomic particles, namely protons and neutrons – themselves built of quarks – and electrons.
Otherwise, though, atoms (and hence rocks) are mostly empty space.
If an atom were scaled up so that its nucleus was the size of the Earth, the distance to its closest electrons would be 2.5 times the distance between the Earth and the sun. In between is nothing at all.
If so much of reality is built on emptiness, then what gives rocks and other objects their form and bulk?
Physics has no problem answering this question: electrons.
Quantum rules dictate that no two electrons can occupy the same quantum state. The upshot of this is that, no matter how hard you try, you cannot think of the world as made up of particles held together by forces, but quantum theory tells us that these are just a mess of fields we can only properly describe by invoking the mathematics of quantum physics.
The story of our recent technological development has been one of ever-increasing computational power. At some future time, we are unlikely to be content with constructing tightly circumscribed game worlds. We will surely begin to simulate everything, including the evolutionary history that led to where we are.
Flicking the switch on such a world simulation could have fundamental ramifications for our concept of reality. If we can do it, that makes it likely it has been done before. In fact, given the amount of computing power advanced civilizations are likely to have at their fingertips, it will probably have been done a vast number of times.
So switching on our own simulation will tell us that we are almost undoubtedly in someone else’s already. We would have to think we are one of the simulated people, rather than one of the rare, exceptional non-simulated people.
Probably, anyway. There has to be a basement level of reality somewhere, in which the “master” simulation exists. It is possible that we live in that reality. Depending on its laws of physics, the basement’s computing resources are likely to be finite.
When you woke up this morning, you found the world largely as you left it. You were still you; the room in which you awoke was the same one you went to sleep in. The outside world had not been rearranged. History was unchanged and the future remained unknowable.
In other words, you woke up to reality. But what is the reality? The more we probe it, the harder it becomes to comprehend.
IT IS DIFFICULT TO REFUTE THE IDEA THAT CONSCIOUSNESS IS ALL THERE IS.
All human comments appreciated. All like clicks chucked in the bin.